400 Years Later: Reflecting on Four Centuries of African American Endurance
The Benjamin A. Quarles Humanities and Social Science Institute
Morgan State University
Baltimore, MD
Friday, November 8, 2019

2019 represents the 400th Anniversary of the first documented arrival of Africans in what became English North America. The “20 & Odd Negroes” who arrived at Old Point Comfort, now Ft. Monroe, near Hampton, Virginia aboard The White Lion, an English privateer (mercenary/pirate ship), on August 25, 1619, were part of a group of 350 Africans who had been captured and sold from Portuguese Angola. They were stolen, off the Caribbean coast of Mexico, from the original slave ship, the Sao Joao Bautista, which had transported the Africans across the Atlantic. These transactions formed part of the larger Transatlantic Slave Trade, which accompanied the European conquest and occupation of the Americas, and the dispossession and genocide of indigenous peoples that had begun a little over a century prior to this moment. It also marked the beginnings of second-class status for Africans in what would eventually become the United States of America, a status that in many respects remains for their descendants.

Although we are in Maryland, and those first Africans landed in Virginia, together we comprise the Chesapeake region, an area where an embryonic black culture emerged in early English North America, and where Virginians and Marylanders have moved back and forth, betwixt and between, from colonial times to the present. The Quarles Institute wishes to use this opportunity to reflect upon four centuries of this black presence.

The Institute is named in honor of Dr. Benjamin A. Quarles, who was a major historian of the black experience in the United States and a leader among his generation of African American scholars. Quarles was a founder and served for two decades as chair of the Department of History here at Morgan. He was a master teacher, popular but not “easy,” a professor’s professor, and a scholar’s scholar. Yet through it all, he was a humble man. Quarles published his classic work The Negro in the American Revolution in 1961, followed by Lincoln and the Negro (1962), and Black Abolitionists (1969), which all contributed to a reappraisal of the narrative of African American and American history. In 1988, Quarles published Black Mosaic , a collection of essays.

The Benjamin A. Quarles Humanities and Social Science Institute at Morgan State University invites undergraduate and graduate, as well as faculty scholars to submit individual papers and panel proposals for presentations at its third annual symposium to be held on Friday, November 8. Presentations may address any aspect of the subject: 400 Years Later, Reflecting on Four Centuries of African American Endurance.

Please submit individual paper proposals (300-word count), panel proposals (500-word count) and a brief CV (Resume) 2-page maximum for each presenter by Friday, September 27, 2019 to .


Thursday, November 7, 2019

James E. Lewis Museum, Murphy Fine Arts Center
5:00 to 7:00 p.m. — Quarles Outreach High School Scholars Roundtable

Friday, November 8, 2019
Martin D. Jenkins Hall, Behavioral and Social Sciences
8:00 to 9:00 a.m. — Registration and Coffee (Atrium)
9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. — Sessions (Various)
The keynote conversation will feature Dr. Nemata Blyden, Associate Professor of History and International Affairs, George Washington University. She is the author of West Indians in West Africa, 1808–1880: The African Diaspora in Reverse , and the recently published African Americans and Africa: A New History.

Refer questions and inquiries for further information to:
Professor Herbert Brewer, Coordinator, African American and African Diaspora Studies Program, James H. Gilliam Jr., College of Liberal Arts, Tel: 443/885.1782; E-mail: